Tuesday, 1 August 2000

Newsletter Issue 8, August 2000

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 8, August 2000
Hi guys,
The main topic of this newsletter is computer technology training. As most of you are no doubt aware, a degree of computer savvy is a pre-req for nearly every job under the sun these days... whether you are self-employed or a checkout operator. 
I have pulled together a short piece on what training options are available to you. Check out Computers and You and Virus News below. 
If you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Computers and You
Great, we have a computer. Now how do we find out how to use it? The techno-babble is daunting, the technology incomprehensible, the technicians expensive and there IS SO MUCH TO LEARN!
As this is such a vast field, we need to be quite task-oriented, and only focus on learning the things that help us to do our work. Easier said than done though, isn't it? Where do we start?
In general, we all need to start with the basics. It is surprising how many of us have missed out on the basic Windows training. I know that I did. I recently went back and ran through the materials for a Windows familiarisation course, and although I knew nearly all of it, I picked up a few very helpful hints.
Then, once you have learned the basics, you need to focus on learning the programmes that you use each day. 
The next question is WHERE do you get training from? Well, you have several choices with training providers;
  • Having a "personal trainer" who can set-up personalised courses and work with you to complete specific tasks on an hour by hour basis
  • Contract small group training with a provider for training on specific software, tailored to organisational requirements
  • Using a CD-Rom or DVD Tutorials where you can skip the bits that you already know (costs vary but maybe $100)
  • Completing an on-line course where each training module is completed by a test (costs about US $50 per course - check out e-learning's price & course list or what Blue U has to offer)
  • Attend a general evening course at a local college - usually one night each week for 6 weeks, in a class of up to 30 (costs about $50). This is very good for obtaining basic knowledge
  • Attend a set specialist course at a professional computer learning provider. Usually about 4 hours, although sometimes a full day, with about 10 in a class (costs about $150 to $300 per person per course)
  • Attend a specific course with a Technical Institute or Polytechnic. Class sizes of up to 20, usually evenings one night a week for a term (can cost up to $400)
My personal favourite is "combined training". 
  1. Attend a Windows 95 or 98 College course, an internet course and a word processing course and learn the basics, once you have the computer. Practice what you have learned. 
  2. Keep a notebook and use the lefthand page to record a question, and fill in the answer on the right-hand side opposite your question. Review the blank sections from time to time to see if you can fill in any more gaps. 
  3. After your courses, over a few weeks, work through all the tutorials provided with the software that you use on the PC. Practice. Keep your notebook going - transfer it to PC if you are getting PC-savvy!
  4. Then hire a personal trainer by the hour to help you fill in the gaps, and build your knowledge base. Get the questions from your notebook answered.
  5. You will then be pretty self-sufficient and able to solve most of your own issues either through investigation, or through consulting PC specialists.
Remember that we all need time and repetition to embed our learning. To truly learn something - to possess that knowledge where we can recall it and use it when we need to - we need to take small, regular bites. We have to go back and retaste those things that we experienced at the beginning or we will forget them.
Good luck with your upskilling!

Virus News

We still seem to be on the quiet side no major news front with viruses in the wild.

However, a bit of a tip with installation of software and anti-virus. Some of you may not realise that you must disable your anti-virus software before installing new software.

How many of you have had trouble with software not loading or running properly? Getting nasty messages, hung sessions, GPFs (the "this program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down" messages where you can only click the close button) or the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death - where everything turns to DOS blue screen)? 

Well, the reason that some software is not running properly could be that the anti-virus wasn't disabled when you installed it.

The reason that anti-virus can cause problems is that the role of anti-virus software is to vet files as the operating system opens them, in case they are infected. And sometimes the anti-virus gets it wrong, and prevents access to legitimate files... preventing a "clean" install of your new software.

This is why Microsoft and the Anti-virus developers recommend that you temporarily disable anti-virus software before any new software installations. 

However, there have been cases of new software being infected with a virus. The workaround for this is to first scan the CD/Discs/download before installation. Then disable your anti-virus software (Ctrl, Alt & Del, select the antivirus and End Task.. in fact, go through and end task on everything except "systray" and "explorer")and then have a CLEAN install.


Announced this month in MIT's in-house magazine, Project Oxygen (remember the Handy, Enviro & Net 21s?) has taken a big cash injection through forming an alliance between MIT and  several compu-tech companies.  Called the Oxygen Alliance, a group of companies that will work with MIT researchers to advance and integrate the technologies of the $50 million, five-year Oxygen project.

The companies - including Acer Group, Delta Electronics, Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, Nokia Research Center and Philips Research - will work with MIT researchers, conducting collaborative research between the organisations, including personnel exchanges and joint workshops and projects.

Now, did you note the "five-year project" part? This does not sound like going commercial with Oxygen in 2010 to me. Sounds remarkably like 2005 instead....

And if you want to catch up with someone really weird - check out DotComGuy. He is currently at 200 days and counting of his self-enforced one year's "stop-in". He has now added "DotComDog" to the family (now consisting of himself, the cat and the dog).  
Short+Hot Keys... and now tips
This time we have some easy CTRL shortcuts for Excel;
  • Excel "Save the active workbook" CTRL+S 
  • Excel "Copy a formula from the cell above the active cell into the cell or the formula bar" CTRL+' (apostrophe) 
  • Excel "Select the current array, which is the array that the active cell belongs to" CTRL+/ 
  • Excel "Enter the date" CTRL+; (semicolon) 
  • Excel "Select only cells that are directly referred to by formulas in the selection" CTRL+[ (opening bracket) 
  • Excel "Select cells in a row that don't match the value in the active cell in that row. You must select the row starting with the active cell." CTRL+\ 
  • Excel "Select only cells with formulas that refer directly to the active cell" CTRL+] (closing bracket) 
  • Excel "Alternate between displaying cell values and displaying cell formulas" CTRL+` (single left quotation mark) 
  • Excel "Hide columns" CTRL+0 (zero) Excel "Hide selected columns" CTRL+0 (zero) 
  • Excel "Display the Format Cells dialog box" CTRL+1 Excel "Apply or remove strikethrough formatting" CTRL+5 
  • Excel "Alternate between hiding objects, displaying objects, and displaying placeholders for objects" CTRL+6 
  • Excel "Show or hide the Standard toolbar" CTRL+7 
  • Excel "Display or hide outline symbols" CTRL+8 
  • Excel "Hide rows" CTRL+9 
  • Excel "Hide selected rows" CTRL+9 
  • Excel "Display the Formula Palette after you type a function name in a formula" CTRL+A 
  • Excel "Select the entire worksheet" CTRL+A
Hot Linx
Computer manuals, information and ezines Woodys Office & Windows Watch 

Wanting to get price comparisons on the net? Try downloading the MySimon bot for good comparative deals

Replace the standard Windows calculator with the free SmartSum calculator online. It has the ability to print, record and even talk! 

wanting a World Clock? Go to http://www.pawprint.net/wt/download.html to download World Clock freeware

And for really good web search shareware, download a great little search engine called WebFerret that searches 12 web crawlers and databases. Two downloads that you need; the Power User Pack and the Search Bar, found at FerretSoft

For those of you who don't know, the terms freeware and shareware mean that you don't have to pay! To check out more webbery terms, check out HighDensity.com

And for more on language use, Merriam Websters (of Webster's English Dictionary's fame) have a button that you can drag into your web browser toolbar so you can right-click on words that you don't know the meaning of. How great is that? Get it at MerriamWebster 

Looking for shareware or freeware? Go to NewApps.com and type in the topic you want to search for. This site has a huge list of cheap and free applications.

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here